Saturday, November 19, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation New Zealand 5.1 - 5.3 !More info here.
- Europe - Nuclear Event in MultiCountries situation update on Wednesday, 16 November..Here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Canary Islands - El Hierro earthquake and volcano eruption – Update 21. here , Live webcams here and here.
- Egypt Protests Update: One reported dead,Over 600 injured in Egypt violence.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: Egypt’s Channel 25 has reported one demonstrator is dead, a man who was shot by security forces on Saturday as police bombarded activists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Hundreds of other protesters have been injured.According to the report and eyewitnesses on the ground, there is live ammunition being fired on the street by the downtown campus of The American University in Cairo (AUC) and bullets are fired at protesters from people dressed in plainclothes.Activists on the ground report scores of people arriving with knives and other “light weapons,” ready “to attack” the protesters. One eyewitness said residents of the nearby Bab al-Louk and Abdeen neighborhoods were spotted from rooftops throwing Molotov bottles.At around 10 PM on Saturday, Islamists leader Hazem Saleh Abu Ismail – the man who initially sparked clashes between protesters the evening before – and Seleem al-Awa, were reportedly in the square attempting to get information on what was happening from their followers, yet activists said the two were attempting to convince protesters to return home.Al-Awa was reportedly forcibly removed from the square by protesters after they refused to return home and said they would remain in the square.The Mohamed ElBaradie campaign told protesters that the once popular presidential candidate is on his way with a vision for a “national salvage government” that he wishes to discuss with protesters.Earlier in the day he had said on his official Twitter account that the police had used “excessive” force and added that “saving Egypt is a national duty that cannot be delayed.”Eyewitnesses are reporting a massive rise in the number of injured and calling on people to give medical supplies and asking doctors to arrive to the iconic square to help the victims.At least 600 people have been injured in the police-led violence.Police attacked thousands of encamped protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and military vehicles, forcibly clearing the square earlier this evening. Protesters gathered in the nearby Abdel Moneim Riyad Square, pushing back toward Tahrir. They have reportedly gained control of the square again, gathering in numbers nearing 30,000.“The protesters and police are playing a cat and mouse game. When they open up space, people try to return and get back to Tahrir, but trucks have attempted to run people over,” said Joseph Mayton, Editor-in-Chief of Bikyamasr.com, reporting from the scene.“Police are just driving and firing indiscriminately, cornering protesters,” he continued.Protesters set two police vehicles ablaze in the clashes, chanting slogans including, “Down with the Mushir,” referring to the title of Egypt’s interim ruler, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi.Police entered Tahrir on Saturday morning, dispersing a small group of protesters who had spent the night in the square after Friday’s “Day of One Demand,” demonstration.The armored vehicle sped down the road, protesters jumping out of the way as the APC whirled left, then right, in an apparent attempt to hit protesters who had retaken Tahrir Square from the police earlier that evening, but were driven out by tear gas. The smoke rose from the streets as the police kept firing. Vinegar and soda was being passed out to everyone as eyes had turned red from the gas. Cairo was again the battlefield for revolution.By 8:00 PM, the police had retreated to their barricades in front of the ministry of defense, giving the thousands of predominantly middle-class demonstrators a chance to return and take positions in the same square that witnessed the ousting of Hosni Mubarak 10 months earlier. It was a cat and mouse game of sorts, with protesters moving forward, only to face yet another American-made barrage of tear gas rang out – demonstrators were more than willing to put the canisters up for the cameras.The chants were clear, these demonstrators wanted the military out. “Down with the Field Marshall” echoed throughout Tahrir Square as thousands and thousands continued to stream into the square in the evening.On the sidewalk just around the corner from the American University in Cairo (AUC) downtown campus, scores of injured were being carried out of harm’s way. Some were bleeding, others were passed out as a result of the high level of gas being indiscriminately bombarded into hundreds of people. The smoke lined the sky as bomb after bomb hit the ground, its screeching sound making it know that the eye-burning gas was to be unleashed.But what made Saturday so contrasting from Friday’s mainly Islamist demonstration was the diversity of protesters. Men and women from all walks of Egyptian society were present, making their voices home. There were bearded youth, young women, men and families out to call for an end to the military’s rule of Egypt. It was a cross-section of Egyptian society, a moment much like the January 25 uprising, where religion, faith, gender and the other divisive ideology that has come to represent the political arena had evaporated.This was not the ultra-liberal left, with their smart phones tweeting away as their fellow Egyptians protest, chant and demand change. No, it was the Egyptians. They had, or have, returned to Tahrir. And they have done so with power and force.As one elderly man told me, “it is the felool [remnants of the old regime] like the military who don’t understand that the people don’t want them. This is disgusting what is happening and we will have no more.”The question is how far they will go. How far will the military and the police go in attempting to put down the demonstrations? With tens of thousands of Egyptians on the streets, the only way to forcibly remove them would be to shoot and kill. Will they do that? Let us hope not.Saturday should be seen as the return of the middle-class to the streets of Egypt. It is a moment that may have the galvanizing force that January 28 and the police brutality of that day had which catapulted millions to the streets in anger and defiance. Now, Tahrir is gaining steam, but it is through the single voice of the middle-class that will bring change once again to Egypt, if they want.Read the full story here.
- Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders and government ally opposes Turkish President Abdullah Gul visit because Turkey is an “Islamist regime”.(AlArabiya).Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, a key ally for the ruling Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition, said on Saturday he opposed a planned visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul because Turkey is an “Islamist regime”.Wilders, whose party is the third-largest in the Dutch parliament and opposes closer ties between Europe and Turkey, backs the Dutch minority government in return for tougher immigration and integration rules. Gul has been invited to visit the Netherlands next year, when the two countries will celebrate 400 years of relations.Wilders said in a commentary in the Dutch daily De Volkskrant that Gul should stay in Ankara.“There is nothing to celebrate. The Islamist regime of Gul and his party member and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is not a true friend of the West and therefore neither of the Netherlands,” Wilders said.“Everywhere Erdogan comes, he calls on Turkish immigrants to not adapt. Turkey does not want to become European but wants to islamise Europe,” Wilders said. While Erdogan heads a political party with roots in political Islam, Turkey is a constitutionally secular democracy.A Dutch parliamentary committee cancelled a visit to Turkey in 2009 after Turkish government officials refused to meet Wilders, who has compared Islam to Nazism but was acquitted of hate speech in June.In 2009, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted by Dutch public broadcaster NOS as calling Wilders a racist who was not welcome in Turkey.Wilders said in his article that Islam was “fundamentally intolerant” of Judaism, Christianity and humanism.Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said that Gul’s visit was in line with the long relationship between the nations and the celebrations would focus on mutual economic interests.Officials at the Turkish embassy in The Hague were not immediately available for comment.Read the full story here.
- Artist Behind “Hope” Poster Asks Obama To Throw More Support Behind Occupier Protests: He’s Our “Man On The Inside”.(WaPo) — In 2008, Shepard Fairey created a political poster that became iconic, and undoubtedly help get Barack Obama elected president. Now, Fairey has tweaked the “Hope” image — “the bright colors, bold lettering, geometric simplicity, heroic poses,” as The Post’s William Booth wrote of Obama’s poster 2008 — for today’s milieu. The new poster replaces Obama (or perhaps simply covers his face?) with the Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous image of the Guy Fawkes mask.It is, Fairey writes, both a statement of support for the Occupy movement — and a sign of support for Obama.“As flawed as the system is, I see Obama as a potential ally of the Occupy movement if the energy of the movement is perceived as constructive, not destructive. I still see Obama as the closest thing to “a man on the inside” that we have presently,” he posted to his Web site Friday.The trend has prompted political analysts to wonder whether Obama can win reelection without the fierce support he engendered in 2008.But Fairey, a longtime supporter of the Occupy protests and Obama, seems to be warning his fans not to give up on Obama just yet: “Change is not about one election, one rally, one leader, it is about a constant dedication to progress and a constant push in the right direction. Let’s be the people doing the right thing as outsiders and simultaneously push the insiders to do the right thing for the people.”Hmmm......."All Communist leaderships had a 'Personality' cult......Heil Dear leader"?Read the full story here.
- 1st the CA pipeline is delayed/cancelled killing 20k jobs and now, 204,000 jobs are flushed by Obama over shale gas.(Ibloga).By Epaminondas.President Obama’s United States Department of Agriculture has delayed shale gas drilling in Ohio for up to six months by cancelling a mineral lease auction for Wayne National Forest (WNF). The move was taken in deference to environmentalists, on the pretext of studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing.“Conditions have changed since the 2006 Forest Plan was developed,” announcedWNF Supervisor Anne Carey on Tuesday. “The technology used in the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations need to be studied to see if potential effects to the surface are significantly different than those identified in the Forest Plan.” The study will take up to six months to complete. The WNF study reportedly “will focus solely on how it could affect forest land,” the significance of hydraulic fracturing to united proponents of the delay, “and not how it could affect groundwater.”Speaking of the WNF gas drilling, one environmentalist group spokesman suggestedthat moving forward with drilling “could turn the Ohio Valley into Ozone Alley,” even though Wayne National Forest already has nearly 1300 oil and gas wells in operation.The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) recently estimated that drilling in the Utica shale, which is affected by the suspension of the mineral lease auctions, would produce up 204,500 jobs by 2015.Hmmmm....If he really wanted to destroy America as a Superpower would he do anything different?Out of Chaos comes a 'New world Order'?Read the full story here.
- Breaking : Saif al-Islam Gaddafi arrested in Libya.(Al-Jazeera).Libyan military commanders have declared that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has been arrested near Ubari in southern Libya.In a press conference in Tripoli on Saturday, Bashir Thaelba, a field commander in the National Transitional Council, said in Tripoli that Saif al-Islam was captured and would be moved to the southern city of Zintan.Saif al-Islam, the 39-year-old son of Muammar Gaddafi, had been on the run since the fall of Libya and the death of his father.He was detained with several bodyguards while trying to flee to Niger, according to a government official. He is said to be in good health."The information saying he was captured is accurate," he said, adding that more details regarding the capture will be given later on in the day."We are happy with his capture, which is why we told you quickly, in order to inform the Libyan people," he said."We hope the Libyan people will do well now after the capture of Saif al-Islam, and they need to move forward and take care of themselves and their country."The press conference ended with cries from the podium of "God is great!".Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reported from the coastal city of Misrata that residents were out in their cars celebrating the news.Mohammad Alalaqi, the Libyan justice minister, told Al Jazeera that Saif al-Islam will face a fair trial according to international standards."We do not mind having international observers at the trial," he said. "We will coordinate with the International Criminal Court on the trial."Saif al-Islam is wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.Read the full story here.More here.
- Obama Awarded 2010 Medal of Freedom to his Allies.(WhitehouseDossier).By KeithKoffler.Any day now, the White House will announce the 2011 winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. What will be interesting to see is whether President Obama will again give many of the awards to his supporters and friends.More than half of the 15 people awarded the 2010 Medal of Freedom, which was presented at an East Room event February 15 of this year, have either political or personal connections to Obama. Some played critical roles in getting him elected president.Most of these people arguably deserved the award. But vast numbers of individuals across the country also deserve it, and most of them are not connected to Obama.Here’s how eight of the fifteen recipients are related to Obama.
- As president in 2008 of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney played one of the most important roles of any single citizen in sweeping Obama into the White House. Sweeney’s union spent tens of millions of dollar on grass roots mobilization and other efforts to secure the Oval Office for Obama.
- Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), also was a pivotal player in getting Obama elected, helping him grab the Democratic nomination.Lewis initially backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries but switched to Obama in late February 2008 after it became clear black voters were supporting Obama. As the elder statesman of the civil rights movement, Lewis’s move was a major coup for the Obama campaign, which was still far from wrapping up the nomination.Warren Buffett was an adviser to Obama’s campaign, and his support gave the liberal Democrat badly needed credibility with business types. Buffett continues to advise Obama on the economy and has in the months since receiving his award role helped Obama promote his economic initiatives.
- Buffett headlined Obama fundraisers this year on September 30 in New York City and on October 27 in Chicago. Each was particularly useful to Obama because it didn’t require a moment of his time, featuring instead Buffett as a stand-in attraction for the president. Ticket prices ranged up to $35,800 a head.
- Recipient Jean Kennedy Smith is of course the brother of the late Edward Kennedy, whose decision to back Obama over Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries was instrumental in his seizing the nomination from her. Mrs. Smith herself endorsed Obama for the presidency in April 2008, before the nominations was his.
- Basketball great Bill Russell is an Obama supporter who appeared at a fundraiser in Seattle for Obama seven months after receiving his award.
- Author Maya Angelou is an ardent Obama backer who helped promote his candidacy, introducing Michelle Obama at a 2008 general election campaign event.
- Cellist Yo-Yo Ma had been appointed by Obama to be a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities before receiving his medal and also played at Obama’s inauguration.
- The possible political ties of John H. Adams to President Obama are less clear but worth taking a look at. Adams was a co-founder and until 2006 the president of the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group generally aligned with Democrats.But is what is less well known is that Adams is on the boards of the Center for American Progress, the politically minded Democratic think tank and advocacy organization, and The League of Conservation Voters.The League of Conservation Voters of course endorsed Obama over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential contest. But it also played a critical role – in the League’s own estimation – in the 2004 Illinois Democratic Senate primary in which Obama leapfrogged several opponents to become the Democratic nominee, launching his career on the national stage and leading to his election as Senator.I have not found any specific evidence, though, that Adams himself played a role in the 2004 effort for Obama.
- At least one of the recipients, however, can be said quite clearly not to be an Obama ally. Obama quite properly gave one of the 2010 awards to George H.W. Bush.Hmmm........In the Old Days Kings would bestow titles on their loyal
traitorsvazals...."Imperator Rex"?Read the full story here.
- Judge Declares Law Governing Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Unconstitutional.(WSJ).In a succinct one-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Lynn N. Hughes of the Southern District of Texas declared that the law authorizing the government to obtain cellphone records without a search warrant was unconstitutional.“The records would show the date, time, called number, and location of the telephone when the call was made,” Judge Hughes wrote in the decision, dated Nov. 11. “These data are constitutionally protected from this intrusion.”Judge Hughes’ decision comes as the U.S. government is facing increasing judicial challenges to its practice of obtaining information about the location of individuals without a search warrant. Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case where the government placed a GPS tracking device under a vehicle and monitored the driver’s movements for a month without a search warrant.During the argument, Chief Justice John Roberts said to Michael Dreeben, deputy solicitor general of the Justice Department: “If you win this case then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States.” The Justice Department argues that people have no expectation of privacy on public roads.Cellphone records are governed by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a 1986 law that permits law enforcement officers to obtain certain digital records – such as some e-mail and cellphone records – without a search warrant. A coalition of technology companies—including Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and ATand Corp.—is lobbying Congress to update the law to require search warrants in more digital investigations.Read the full story here.
- Video - Iran's oil minister Rostam Qasemi says oil could be used as a political tool, if necessary.(Al-Jazeera).The new head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has unveiled a hawkish stance towards Iran.The IAEA's new report claims to show "credible" information of activities relevant to an Iranian nuclear weapons programme, prompting fresh threats and warnings from Israel's Prime minister Netanyahu.At the same, the leading US Republican candidates running for presidency are competing to outdo each other in promising aggressive action against the Islamic Republic.The oil markets are watching the political rhetoric with a sense of unease; another US led war in the Middle East will have far-reaching consequences for global supplies.But what does Iran have to say about all this? What will it do in the event of conflict, and in particular, how does it see oil supplies being affected?With international leaders discussing the propsects of an attack on Iran, Talk to Al Jazeera's Teymoor Nabili sits down with Iran's Oil Minister, Rostam Qasemi, to discuss the current threat and its implications for the oil market. Although the minister says Iran does not want to use its vast oil resources as a political tool in a crisis, he says Iran would use it, if necessary."Well, I would like to mention that our economy does rely on oil. However, we don't foresee any difficulties in exporting our oil. We don't consider crude oil as a political tool, however if necessary, we'll use it as a tool any way we need to.We are not keen on using oil as a political tool and really we don't see any difficulties that would prompt us to use oil as a political tool. We are not interested in using crude oil as a tool. And right now, we believe everything's ok and that there is no need to use crude oil as a tool. However, I have to reiterate that in case we are urged to and in case we think it's necessary: yes, we will use this."Read and see the full story here.
- Putin to Coordinate Oil Production with OPEC?(Heritage).Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that his country, the world’s leading oil and gas producer, plans to work closely with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the oil cartel.Russia has long spoken about linking up with OPEC, but at this point the extent of its participation has been sending high-level delegations to attend OPEC meetings in Vienna as observers.“OPEC is sometimes irritated by us as we, not being a member of the organization, produce more oil, which influences international crude oil prices,” said Putin. “But we will coordinate our work with OPEC.” This is almost word for word what the prime minister said in September 2010. Russia continued to pump away at full capacity regardless of this announcement, exacerbating tensions with OPEC countries.In 2008, faced with plummeting oil prices, Russia considered curtailing production in cooperation with OPEC by storing the oil rather than exporting it. This announcement from Minister of Energy Sergei Shmatko was enough to buoy crude prices by a few dollars late in the year.Despite this, Russia continued to pump more while OPEC countries cut production to meet output goals. While Saudi Arabia, the oil market maker, produced below capacity, Russia ramped up and surpassed it, becoming the world’s largest oil producer with an output of more than 10 million barrels per day.Now that crude prices are well above OPEC’s 2010 target of $70–80 per barrel, production has been thrown back into high gear. Putin’s remarks coincided with a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that Saudi Arabia will surpass Russia in oil output in about 2015. The agency’s World Energy Outlook cites the inability of output in new fields to match the decline in production from mature deposits in Russia (mainly in the depleted Tatarstan and West Siberia provinces) as the reason for Russia slipping back to the number two position.The IEA report also predicts that Saudi Arabia’s output will reach 14 million barrels per day in 2035, although it is not clear whether it has reserves to back up such production goals. Furthermore, the geopolitical situation in the Persian Gulf remains explosive, with Iran making a bid to acquire nuclear weapons and dominate its Sunni Arab neighbors.Russia may also not have the necessary reserves to keep up with the Saudis, who have 262.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, while Russia has a comparatively small 60 billion barrels as of the beginning of 2011.Whether or not Russia decides to collude with OPEC in setting production goals will have serious ramifications for world energy prices. Russia may not assume a full membership in OPEC, but its collaboration would boost the organization’s cartel-like power. The United States, China, Japan, and Europe—being the principal oil importers—would particularly suffer from the higher crude prices resulting from this collusion if and when it occurs.Hmmm....Especially with a U.S. President preventing drilling in America.Read the full story here.
- Hidden in Plain Sight - Facts and Myths about Germany's Far-Right Extremists.(Spiegel).In depth analysis By Barbara Hans, Benjamin Schulz and Jens Witte. Officials estimate that there are roughly 25,000 far-right extremists among Germany's almost 82 million residents. Still, their views enjoy much more support than the numbers would suggest. Here, SPIEGEL ONLINE takes a close look at just how rooted right-wing extremism is in Germany.Read the full story here.
- Egypt military chases, beats protesters away from Tahrir Square.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: Less than 24 hours after almost one million Egyptians participated in the “Friday of One Demand,” security forces attacked those who had spent the night and tore down their tents, chasing them around the side streets of downtown Cairo around noon on Saturday.Eyewitnesses have said at least 18 people were injured and dozens more arrested after the military police, aided by riot police clashed with protesters to disperse their sit-in in Tahrir square.They added that the police broke into the nearby Omar Makram mosque looking for protesters and searched the metro for anyone who had attempted to run away.Heavy gunfire was heard in the square when the police fired warning shots.Eyewitnesses, and a Bikyamasr.com reporter on the ground, confirmed that the military police were seen beating protesters and dragging them from their clothes on the ground, including women and elderly citezines.Among those injured was a young man in his twentees from the “injured of the revolution,” who was again assaulted and beaten by security forces, while activists on the ground reported that ambulances were very late responding to calls, which endangered many people’s lives.It was also reported that media workers were detained by the military, including a video journalist with ON TV and other print journalists are curently detained in the army’s armored vehicles in Talaat Harb street, just off from Tahrir.Meanwhile, the remaining few protesters are continuing their attempt to continue their sit-in and were on a march in one of the small streets surrounding the square, chanting “we either die like them or bring them justice,” before the police chased after them again.A few hundred activists remain in the square, while not all the injured have been taken to hospital. Some injuries are reportedly serious. Dozens, including journalists, were detained and a number of them were released after spending over an hour in an ill-ventilated armored military car. Read the full story here.
- "Like shooting fish in a Barrel"?On the trail of Libya's 20.000 missing missiles.(BBC).By Karen Allen.Colonel Mohammed Amer, a commander with one of the "revolutionary" brigades that helped to topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, shows off his war trophy at a military camp near Misrata. He explains this was one of 13 Scuds that Gaddafi planned to use on his people. It is a crude, imprecise weapon capable of inflicting damage on a target up to 300km (190 miles) away. This one was seized from the desert in Bani Walid and brought east to the city of Misrata, where thousands of people lost their lives trying to defend the city between February and May. But it is not the crude Scuds that are worrying the international community: it's the proliferation of other weapons that have not yet been secured.The interim authority, the National Transitional Council (NTC), has been quick to identify some of the largest weapons sites, especially where chemical weapons - including mustard gas - have been identified. Even so we found artillery shells, ammunition and more lying unsecured in abandoned warehouses in Tripoli. Now there are concerns that other more deadly weapons are going astray.For the past two weeks, we have been on the search for so called Manpads - Man Portable Air Defence Systems - a new acronym in Libya's war lexicon. These surface-to-air missiles, which are easy to use and easy to hide, are the weapon of choice for groups like al-Qaeda, say security experts. We've seen warehouses turned into arsenals, trenches three metres deep once stuffed with weapons, breathing apparatus for chemical respirators, and AK47s everywhere - even children brandishing them.Videos circulating on the internet during the early days of the eight-month uprising show NTC "liberation fighters" or rebels, posing with a portable surface-to-air missile for the cameras.Seized from one of Colonel Gaddafi's packed arsenals, the missiles portray a potent symbol of power, not just on the battlefield but in civilian life. Capable of disabling an aeroplane in a matter of seconds, portable surface-to-air missiles were used in Kenya back in 2002, during a failed attempt to bring an Israeli plane down. Now that the guns are almost silent in Libya, there's a sense of urgency to try to locate the missiles and launchers that may have been looted.The Americans, who have refused repeated requests to do interviews with our BBC team in Libya, have been briefing widely on the issue elsewhere.The official line sent in a text message is that "teams on the ground have already disabled or destroyed... over 1,500 Manpads in Libya", adding that they believe many more were destroyed during the Nato campaign.But we have found the evidence on the ground hard to find. Human Rights Watch identified surface-to-air missiles discarded at weapons dumps during the final days of fighting. But a month on - and despite NTC assurances that there are attempts at recovery - there is still much confusion."There are just a few thousand, not 20,000," insists Fawzi Abu Katif, the deputy defence minister, who concedes that they have no clear idea how many of these weapons are in circulation". Colonel Gaddafi is believed to have stockpiled up to 20,000 Manpads back in the 1970s, but just how many were sold on to his allies in the intervening years, no-one knows.Read the full story here. Video report here.
- Israelis Mapping Every Grave in 3,000 Year Old Mount of Olives Necropolis.(AD).A Jewish group in Jerusalem is using 21st century technology to map every tombstone in the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives, a sprawling, politically sensitive necropolis of 150,000 graves stretching back three millennia.The goal is to photograph every grave, map it digitally, record every name, and make the information available online. That is supposed to allow visitors to find their way in the cemetery, long a bewildering jumble of crumbling gravestones and rubble surrounded by Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Beset for many years by neglect, it is among the oldest cemeteries in continuous use in the world.Around 40,000 graves have been mapped so far by the team, which began work in 2008. They expect to finish recording all of the intact gravestones -- an estimated 100,000 in total -- by the end of next year. The rest are either so old they are unrecognizable or lie underneath later layers of burial.Mappers look at aerial photographs, consult handwritten burial records dating back to the mid-1800s, walk along the rows of graves and dig through piles of dislocated tombstones, noting names and dates."This place has been used for burial since there have been signs of life in Jerusalem," said Moti Shamis, a member of the mapping team. "The cemetery is a mirror of the city -- in wartime, we see more graves. When new groups of Jews reach the city, the names on the graves change."Like so much in Jerusalem, this project is linked to the city's fraught politics. The mappers are from an organization called Elad, affiliated with the settlement movement, which also works to move Jews into east Jerusalem in an attempt to prevent the city's division in any future peace deal.Elad has made it its business to develop sites of Jewish importance in east Jerusalem, reinforcing the Israeli presence in the part of the city the Palestinians want as their capital.Jews began burying their dead on the hill that later became known as the Mount of Olives about three millennia ago. It was a convenient site a short walk from the city walls. Over the centuries, burial here became linked to a prophecy in the Book of Zecharia according to which the Messiah would approach Jerusalem from the mount, splitting it in two. Those interred on the hill, this belief posited, would be the first to be resurrected.The mount became, and remains, a sought-after place to be buried for Jews in Israel and abroad."As a place of burial it differs from almost every other on earth, in being, as no other is, a witness to a faith that is firm, decided and uncompromising until death," wrote Norman Macleod, a missionary, after a visit in 1864. "It is not therefore the vast multitude who sleep here, but the faith which they held in regard to their Messiah, that makes this spectacle so impressive."Numerous churches were also built here, associated with events in the life of Jesus. In Christian burial grounds and crypts on and around the mount visitors can find the remains of people like Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother of Prince Phillip of Britain, and Russian Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, killed during the Russian Revolution with the rest of the czar's family.The project is mapping only the Jewish cemetery, which includes several burial monuments from the time of the second Jewish Temple, about 2,000 years ago. Among the oldest graves that still bear names is one of a medieval scholar, Ovadia of Bartenura, an Italian who came to Jerusalem and died here around 1500.The work of the mappers has solved several mysteries, one of them that of the missing grave of Shmuel Ben-Bassat.Last year, Israeli authorities accused Israel's Islamic Movement of manufacturing about 300 graves as part of what was supposed to be a restoration of a Muslim cemetery in west Jerusalem. Elsewhere in the same cemetery, an Israeli initiative to build a Museum of Tolerance on land that contained human remains has drawn fierce criticism from Muslims. More recently, Palestinians have sparred with Israeli officials and archaeologists over use of part of a different Muslim cemetery just outside the walls of the Old City."On the Mount of Olives, we have a cemetery that is undoubtedly important to the Jewish people, but we also have a battle over land," said Yonathan Mizrahi, an archaeologist whose group, Emek Shaveh, is critical of much of the Israeli activity in east Jerusalem as heedless of Palestinian residents."The cemetery is identified as Jewish and thus as Israeli and there is an attempt to say -- this is a place that needs to be under Israeli control," he said.Read the full story here.
- Iran commander killed in blast ‘was working on missiles’ his brother says.(AlArabiya).An Iranian general killed in a massive explosion at a munitions base outside the capital on November 12 was working on an intercontinental missile, his brother told a government-run newspaper.General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam died while working on a “project related to intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Mohammad Tehrani Moghaddam, himself a Revolutionary Guards commander, told Saturday’s Iran newspaper.“He lost his life while doing a final test of the missile," Moghaddam was quoted as saying. "The project was in the final testing phase. It was related to an intercontinental ballistic missile ... It was a completely high-tech, confidential process."The Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s most powerful military force, is in charge of Iran’s missile program.The Guards have said the huge blast was an accident, implicitly rejecting Western media speculation it might have been a covert Israeli or U.S. attack.Officials in Tehran said Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam founded the country’s ballistic missile program after becoming an artillery specialist in the 1980s, during the Iraq-Iran war.The chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said last Wednesday the base was being used in the production of an unspecified “experimental product” that could be used against the United States or Israel.Firouzabadi said the development of the project had been delayed by “two weeks” because of the blast.In a statement released after the explosion, the Guard said it would not forget Moghaddam’s “effective role in the development of the country’s defense ... and his efforts in launching and organizing the Guard’s artillery and missile units.”Moghaddam headed a “self-sufficiency” unit of the Guard’s armaments section, it said.In the interview, Mohammed Tehrani Moghaddam said that this brother had also set up Hezbollah’s missile capability. “Hasan ... visited Lebanon and created Hezbollah’s missile unit there,” he was quoted as saying.Iran is a key supporter of Hezbollah and is believed to funnel it weapons and millions of dollars in funding, though Tehran denies arming the Shiite group. Hezbollah, also closely allied to Syria, boasts a heavy arsenal of rockets capable of reaching deep inside Israel.Iran’s arsenal boasts missiles with a range of about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) that were designed for Israeli and U.S. targets. The missile capability, along with Iran’s nuclear program, is among the reasons why Israel considers Iran its most dangerous enemy.Moghaddam said his brother was also involved in Iran’s space program, assisting the rocket that took an Iranian satellite into orbit.He didn’t elaborate but said Hasan was favored by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mohammed Moghaddam himself was once Khamenei’s bodyguard.The Guards initially said 17 Guard members were killed in the explosion. The semi-official Mehr news agency listed the names of 21 victims prompting the military force to say some of those critically injured had succumbed to their wounds later.Read the full story here.
- Iranian Schools Teach Children Hatred of Christians, Jews, United States.(DocsTalk).New York – Iranian children are indoctrinated in basic hatred of Christians, Jews and the West, concludes a new study of textbooks used in Iran.“Examining Iranian schoolbooks is a chilling reminder that the words of violent confrontation espoused by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are not mere rhetoric, but need to be regarded with the utmost gravity,” said David A. Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “To understand Iran’s defiance against the international community as it pursues development of nuclear weapons, one must read what Iran’s education system preaches.” Researchers with the Center for Monitoring Peace in the Middle East (CMIP) analyzed 115 textbooks and teachers’ guides currently used in grades 1 to 12 in Iran. The full report, which will be released later this year by AJC and CMIP, offers a comprehensive survey of the official Iranian worldview to which school-age children are exposed. AJC and CMIP have previously jointly published studies of schoolbooks used in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.Fighting American world hegemony in the name of Islam is a main focus of the Iranian educational system. Children are taught that America is the “Great Satan,” the “World Eater,” or the “Arrogant One.” For example, Defense Readiness 1, a teacher’s guide used in high school, states, “The students should have a heart overflowing of hatred towards Arrogance.”Iranian textbooks reflect the ideology of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which continues to spread its values to other nations in the Middle East and around the world.“The war with the West is unavoidable and is part of the Islamic Revolution itself,” write Arnon Groiss and Nethanel Toobian, authors of the AJC-CMIP report. Indeed, a seventh grade book, Islamic Culture and Religious Instruction, states: “Now, in order to continue the Islamic Revolution, it is our duty to continue with all [our] power our revolt against the arrogant ones and the oppressors.”Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, is quoted in an 11th grade textbook, Islamic Viewpoint, preaching confrontation with the non-Muslim world. “I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-eaters wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them,” says Khomeini. “Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater liberty which is martyrdom. Either we will shake one another’s hands in the joy of the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours.”Meanwhile, Israel, which is not recognized in any way and whose name does not appear on any maps in Iranian schoolbooks, is portrayed as a danger to the whole world of Islam and as a tool in the hands of Islam’s enemy, America.An 11th grade geography book states: “Another problem [faced by the Muslim countries] is the regime that occupies Jerusalem (Israel), which has been created in this area as a basis for America and other aggressive powers, with the aim of taking over Muslim lands.”In the case of the inevitable Iranian war with the U.S., Iranian children are taught to regard Jews in “Palestine” as garbage to be cleared. Gifts of Heaven, a third grade picture storybook, depicts the inhabitants of a tidy town chasing away a repugnant creature that spreads garbage wherever he goes. The Star of David, the Jewish symbol, is on the creature’s arm, and in one of the pictures it is seen as part of the garbage. “Degrading Jews and Judaism in Iranian schools reinforces the severity of the Iranian president’s frequent threats to annihilate Israel,” said Harris.Iranian textbooks reflect “an educational system that prepares school children for war and martyrdom against the West in general, and against the United States and Israel in particular,” conclude Groiss and Toobian. “The continuation of this way of thinking and indoctrination inside the system under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should alarm all individuals and governments that cherish the principles of peace and international cooperation.”Read the full story here.
- Chinese Government Daily Accuses India of 'Flexing Its Muscle Toward China'; Says: 'India's Troop Increase on the Border Between China and India is Aimed at Meeting the Requirements of the United States'.(Memri).Recently, the People's Daily Online, an official Chinese publication, published reports that expressed concern over the expansion of India's military capabilities, especially with regard to the proposed deployment of additional troops on the India-China border. The Chinese concern follows a recent report in the Indian media that the Indian army plans to station 100,000 more troops along the India-China border.In recent years, Indian media have published a series of reports on China's growing military expansion and the incursion of Chinese troops into Indian territory. According to an Indian media report, India's Ministry of Defense recently "approved a Rs. 64,000-crore (approximately $13 billion) military modernization plan that would include raising four new divisions along the India-China border. Two of these would be part of a Mountain Strike Corps dedicated to offensive operations." In the two reports below, China's People's Daily Online accused Japan of facilitating India's military influence into East Asia and blamed India for "joining hands" with Vietnam to increase its influence in the South China Sea. The Chinese publication also accused the United States of relying on India in a strategic move to counter China and added: "India's troop increase on the border between China and India is aimed at meeting the requirements of the United States…""India's defense ministry has already approved a $13 billion military modernization plan and has decided to send an additional 100,000 soldiers to the China-India border areas over the next five years. This move is regarded as India's second phase of a military buildup along the China-India border. "Once the plan is approved, it will be the Indian military's largest-ever expansion plan and its largest increase in the number of soldiers along the border with China since the India-China border clash in 1962 ended. "India's move is first associated with the adjustments to its national security strategy. India has begun to consider China as an opponent. The East China Sea and South China Sea issues have further continued to expose some countries' 'envious, jealous, and hateful' attitude toward China. "The changes in the international and regional security landscape will negatively affect China and other countries involved, but they will benefit one country: India. "The United States has recently cemented its ties with India and has regarded India as a crucial strategic alliance. At the same time, Japan has been busy facilitating the expansion of India's military influence into East Asia.""India not only stepped into the South China Sea issue, which is very sensitive to China, but also increased troops on the border between China and India and upgraded their weapons. India is also strengthening its military exchanges with the countries around China. "When I was sent to the Indian Army Education Officer Training Center to study and participate in exchanges in 2007 and 2008, I met military officers from Vietnam, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Laos, and Outer Mongolia."Second, the move made by India is connected with some practical issues of China-India relations. The general development trend of China-India relations is actually good. The high-level exchanges and political relationship between the two countries are quite harmonious. However, the people of the two countries do not understand each other well and the mutual military trust is also not strong enough. "Between China and India, there are not only border issues left over by history, but also practical issues of the complex China-India-Pakistan triangle relations. India always worries about the good relationship between China and Pakistan, which is the biggest problem between China and India." "Meanwhile, India insists joining hands with Vietnam to step in the South China Sea issue. All of these factors will not help promote the mutual military trust between China and India. India incorrectly believes that China develops Tibet as a shield, and therefore it continues to strengthen its military power on the border to guard against and contain China."India's arms expansion is also related to its domestic political climate. Certain Indian elites always take China as a frame of reference for India's development. As China has a clear lead over India in many areas, they are worried that India may lag behind China in seizing energy resources, and thus naturally see China's peaceful development as a 'threat.' "Certain Indian elites and media outlets have repeatedly criticized the Indian government for its lack of military investments, which they claim has led to slow development of the country's armed forces…."India is now emerging as a major buyer on the international arms market, and large amounts of advanced weapons from the United States, Russia, Israel, and European countries have supplemented India's troop increase along the border areas with China."In fact, deploying 100,000 more soldiers along the border areas with China is more of a political move than a military one….""The average growth rate of India's military spending has stood at 7-8% percent for more than a decade, and its military spending ranks ninth in the world. India is also the world's largest arms importing country. "The spread of the 'China threat' theory, the increase of troops to the disputed areas near the China-India border, and the display of a tough attitude toward China all aim to make a breakthrough in further increasing military spending. "Despite India's huge military spending, its economic growth has recently been slow, with last year's economic growth rate hitting a six-year low. It is very difficult to considerably increase military spending for a military buildup amid the economic downturn, so India needs to first create a tense atmosphere and transfer domestic problems in the hopes of securing more military spending. "India has continued to hold joint military drills with China's neighboring countries over a recent period, showing that it evidently intends to contain China. Furthermore, India's move to send an additional 100,000 soldiers to the China-India border areas is consistent with its earlier actions aimed at containing China." "In addition, the United States needs to rely on India to restrict China. India needs to show its value to the United States by flexing its muscle toward China so that it could gain U.S. military support and help raise its international status. "India's troop increase on the border between China and India is aimed at meeting the requirements of the United States, and then getting support from the United States. However, will India realize its goal?"First, the action will [make] tense the situation of the region and harm India's own interests. Increasing troops on the border area is always a sensitive move, and it is especially sensitive to increase troops on a disputed border area. "Second, the action is completely not worthwhile. Currently, India has 40,000 troops in the disputed area [i.e. along the border with China], and if the further 100,000 is deployed, the total number of the troops will reach 140,000. In an era when precision-guided weapons are developing rapidly, everyone with common sense knows that concentrated troops could be eliminated easily…."Hmmmm..........Read the full story here.
- Prominent Saudi Preacher Urges the Arabs to Manufacture Nuclear Weapons and Gain Military Strength – For "The World Respects No One but the Strong".(Memri).In a November 8 article titled "The West Wages Jihad But Forbids Us From Doing So"published in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, prominent Saudi preacher Dr. Aidh Al-Qarni wrote that the West's hypocritical stance – of engaging in warfare and stockpiling arms while at the same time urging others to be peaceful and to refrain from manufacturing weapons – is simply a clever tactic of warfare. The West, Al-Qarni said, understands that power and military supremacy are far more important than cultural heritage or moral virtue; therefore, it builds up its own strength while keeping its rivals weak by convincing them to neglect their own. Iran too is developing nuclear weapons in order to gain an advantage over its rivals – not only Israel, but also the Arabs.Al-Qarni warned the Arabs not to fall into this trap, and to invest their efforts not in museums or literature but in tanks, missiles, and nuclear arms. Only thus, he concluded, will they gain the respect of the world and be a match for the West and for Iran.The following are excerpts from a translation of the article that was published in the English edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:
"How can the West wage jihad but prohibit us Muslims from doing so? I am talking about the fact that the West has [manufactured] nuclear missiles yet prevents us from doing so; occupies our lands whilst protecting its own territory; and colonizes our seas and oceans whilst defending its own seas and oceans. Its factories produce rockets, bombs, missiles, frigates, rocket-launchers and aircraft carriers, whilst our factories only produce bubble-gum and Pepsi. The West warns us against acts of aggression and acquiring weapons, whilst it launches attacks and stockpiles arms day and night. "This is because the West is intelligent and knows that power is the source of all stature and grandeur. Allah the Almighty said: 'Prepare against them what force you can.' The world respects no one but the strong. As for diplomacy, romanticism, and political sentimentality, this is mere superficial talk to distract and deceive foes, because war is an act of deception. Preoccupying the Middle East with arts, folklore, and cultural ceremonies at the expense of military factories is an open joke. To [build] one tank would be better than a thousand poems, a rocket more useful than a hundred cultural shows, and a bomb [is] more effective than a hundred epic tales to remind us of the glory of our forefathers, and what it used to be like in the old days. Does the world respect a state for its peaceful reputation, finesse, tact, and modesty, or for its strength and power? Iran realized this secret, and indeed the Persians are among the most cunning people, described by Umar Ibn al-Khattab as having 'the virtue of the mind, with which they rule.'"I agree with what Mr. 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote in this newspaper, and [with] what Mr. Daoud Al-Shiryan wrote in the newspaper Al-Hayat, suggesting that Iran will [build] a nuclear bomb and the West will not attack it. It will then be a case of the survival of the fittest, and the Arab appeal to Iran to abandon its military nuclear program – to have mercy on the Arabs and gain heavenly merit for doing so - will [turn out to be] a hollow cry. Iran has not heeded these words, which are not [worth] the ink with which they were written, because the true rational minds of the world – the international war [experts] and military [mavens] – all agree that the strongest is ultimately the one who is most respected and feared. In this life, there is no room for integrity, because integrity and sanctity belong to the heavens, whilst the world's laws and politics are [based] on deceit and cunning... As long as people [agree] to be ruled by current [man-made] laws without divine [laws], then it is [all] a matter of interests, maneuvers, usurpation, arrogance, oppression and proving oneself." "Look at the five major nuclear states, how they advise others to abandon their nuclear weapons and oppose [their having an] atomic bomb, whilst the United States itself originally gained its respect and political weight [thanks to] its nuclear arsenal. The message of the five states is heard everywhere, and their banners are held high. They possess the right to veto decisions, and the world bows to them, fearing their reach and power. They preach to other states and advise all nations to be peaceful, transparent, and hospitable, urging them not to manufacture nuclear weapons because this constitutes a global threat. In fact, the five major nuclear states want other nations to [refrain from] manufacturing nuclear weapons so that they can maintain their hegemony, authority, and tyranny. The West was wise to develop the inter-continental ballistic missile and the atomic bomb, yet it prevents us in the Middle East from doing so because it knows that in order to rule the world and monopolize its wealth, one needs overpowering strength and clear superiority. We in the Middle East are supposed to be content with reading history and reveling in the glories of the past, but this is only good for students in literacy classes... "The poet Nizar Qabbani once said about the Arabs: They have long written history books and they became convinced. But since when did guns live inside books? Oh Bin al-Walid [Islamic commander Khalid Ibn al-Walid], is there no sword that you can hire, or have our swords turned to wood?""I urge the Arabs to manufacture the nuclear bomb and nuclear weapons. There are buildings currently occupied by minor daily newspapers that no one reads, and 'cultural heritage' museums [exhibiting] scrap metal, worn-out rope, blunt axes, and other artifacts. These should all be turned into factories to manufacture tanks, rocket-launchers, missiles, satellites, and submarines, so that the world comes to respect us, hear our voice, and appreciate our status. The world is governed by the law of the strong. "An ancient Arab poet once said: 'The wolves run after he who has no dogs, but steer clear of the lair of the vicious lion.' Do not let us be fooled by Iran's honeyed words suggesting that Tehran seeks nuclear weapons only to burn Israel, for this is purely an illusion. "The poet Khalaf Bin Hazal said: 'Do not trust the wolf cubs if they are alive whilst their parents are dead, for they will come at you in the morning with their fangs.'" Read the full story here.
- Syria, Turkey and the Kurds.(MEforum).By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.According to a report by the French daily Le Figaro, Bashar al-Assad is apparently aiming to destabilize Turkey, which has been supporting the predominantly Sunni Islamist leadership of opposition groups to the Syrian regime, by seeking to grant greater autonomy to the Kurdish population that primarily lives in the north and north-east of Syria.As part of this initiative, Assad has reportedly encouraged the opening of Kurdish schools in the north, and has allowed for a Kurdish politician by the name of Muhammad Salih Muslim- a member of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that is suspected of being affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and is apparently organizing local elections in the Kurdish areas- to return to Syria from exile in Iraq.What are the observations and conclusions to draw from this report if it is credible?First, that Assad might wish to use the Kurds as proxies against Turkey in a way has precedent in Syrian policy.Bashar's father Hafez had once provided a safe haven for the PKK to launch attacks on Turkish soil, and it was during those years that Turkey, sensing that there was a common terrorist threat in the region, had particularly good ties with Israel. However, in 1998, once Turkey threatened to invade Syria to take out the PKK, Hafez changed course, and the tensions between the two countries slowly began to cool down.On the other hand, while Hafez was sympathetic to the PKK in so far as he could use the group as a proxy against Turkey, granting any form of autonomy was always out of the question. As Adib Abdulmajid points out, one of the key texts that has traditionally defined the Baathist government's discriminatory policies against Kurds in Syria is a book entitled 'A Political, Ethnic, and Social Study of Al-Jazeera Province,' written by a First Lieutenant in the Syrian Army, Muhammad Talab Hilal.In his book, Hilal claimed that the Kurds 'had used the pure religion of Islam for their national goals,' and argued that they were orchestrating a sinister program of mass immigration into the Al-Jazeera region of the country's northeast in order to facilitate the creation of a greater Kurdistan. Hence he lambasted the Kurds, calling them 'rabid dogs' whose 'annoying barking' had to be stopped.The Syrian regime therefore launched a campaign, after the publication of this book, to carry out a policy of Arabization in Al-Jazeera, similar to Saddam Hussein's policies in the north of Iraq. Among these Arabization measures included the loss of Syrian citizenship for 400,000 Kurds (a 1962 measure that predated the Assad dynasty by eight years), confiscation of lands for Arab settlers, and the imprisonment, torture and execution of Kurdish activists.Coming back to the present day, it is plausible that Assad would make concessions to Kurdish demands in order to weaken the opposition, which certainly has some Kurds among its ranks. The Syrian Kurds in general, like those in Iraq, are undoubtedly more concerned with achieving autonomy at the minimum, rather than overthrowing the central government as an end in itself.Even among Kurds hostile to Assad, there has been a degree of reluctance to work with the opposition coalition known as the Syrian National Council (SNC), which has set up a government-in-exile. This should not be surprising in light of the insistence among many members of the SNC that Syria retain its identity as an 'Arab Republic' ('Syrian Arab Republic' being the official name for Syria at present).In addition, as Michael Weiss notes, the Kurds feel under-represented in the Secretariat of the SNC, having only four out of twenty-nine seats, and are concerned about Turkish involvement with the SNC. Thus, it should not come as shock if Assad is trying to exploit these tensions between the Kurds and the SNC.Nonetheless, if Assad is trying to reach out to Kurds to maintain his hold on power, the initiative of granting greater autonomy could prove a double-edged sword for him. As disclosures from Wikileaks cables reveal, Christians in Al-Jazeera province have claimed that the Kurds have gradually altered the demographics of the area through immigration and high birthrates, such that an alleged 80-90% historic Christian majority is said to have now become a 35% minority.Owing to these suspicions and fears of Kurdish aspirations in the area, Assad could well see significant numbers of the Christian minority in Syria- comprising around 10% of the population- turn against him should he be granting autonomy to the Kurds in Al-Jazeera province.But perhaps Assad has decided on balance that the Christians will ultimately refrain from siding with the predominantly Sunni Arab protestors on account of fear of reprisals or discrimination at the hands of a Sunni Islamist regime that might come to power, should the Baathist regime fall.More generally, the above observations demonstrate that the Kurds are increasingly a force that can no longer just be regarded as sitting on the sidelines.Iraq is another case in point, where the Kurdish parties now form a key part of the ruling coalition in Baghdad.Consequently, the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has often been forced to make concessions to the Kurds, such as allowing the Peshmerga (Kurdish militiamen) to move into the disputed territory of Khanaqin district in Diyala province to annex it on the pretext of security issues. When al-Maliki tried to bolster his nationalist credentials by ordering the Kurds in Khanaqin to lower Kurdish flags, demonstrations were staged in response and al-Maliki backed down.It is noteworthy how the Kurds, deprived of a homeland in spite of being promised self-determination in the aftermath of World War One, are beginning to play the role of kingmakers in the two countries that have been ruled by Baathist governments (in Iraq this rule lasted from 1968 until the U.S.-led invasion in 2003).Indeed, despite Baathism's claims to uphold pan-Arab nationalism, the ideology has been little more than a façade for minority despotism: Alawite in the case of Syria, Sunni Arab in the case of Iraq.Read the full story here.
- Female Candidate for Egyptian Parliament Affirms that "Women Are Deficient in Intelligence and Religion, and It Is Not Permissible for Them to Be in Authority"(TranslatingJihad).Translated from Gaza-based Donia al-Watan, 17 November 2011:Female Salafi Candidate for Egyptian Parliament: "Women Are Deficient in Intelligence and Religion, and It Is Not Permissible for Them to Be in Authority" A female salafi candidate for Egyptian Parliament, Muna Salah, said to al-Sharq al-Awsat that women are deficient in intelligence and religion, and it is not permissible for them to be in authority or to occupy the office of the presidency. She defended her candidacy for the People's Council, saying that acting as a representative in the Council only partial authority and not complete authority, such as the presidency of the republic. She added that she seeks to apply the Islamic shari'a, including cutting off the hands of thieves, preventing the mingling of men and women, and specifying black clothes for women and white clothes for men. While just one of thousands of candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Muna Salah--president of the Manabir al-Noor Charity Association in Egypt--continues to provoke controversy. She is one of two veiled candidates in the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in two weeks. [...]This lady may sound crazy to you, but keep in mind that she's quoting directly from Muhammad himself, as recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion." -Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301.Read the full story here.